Commentary by Jeff Commings
PHOENIX, Arizona, November 15. IN past years, the competition for the Male Athlete of the Year at the USA Swimming Golden Goggle Awards has been pretty intense. Usually, it’s just Michael Phelps versus Ryan Lochte, though Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen are also winners in this category.
Phelps has four of these awards; Lochte has three. Will Lochte even the score with a win this year, or will the massive popularity of Matt Grevers add a new member to the winners list?
Since the nominees for this category were chosen based on winning individual gold medals at the world championships, we only have two names listed. I wish the ability to cast write-in votes was in place, so it wouldn’t be such a small list. Naturally, Kevin Cordes belongs on this list, as does Tom Shields. But, at least in this situation, the NCAA championships do not exist.
Remember back in 2010 when Matt Grevers didn’t make the 2011 world championship team? That ordeal is clearly behind him, now that he’s celebrating consecutive gold medals from the London Olympics and the Barcelona world championships. Grevers didn’t swim as fast this year as he did last year, and well, most Olympic champions were guilty of that this year. But a gold medal is always remembered more than the time.
Ryan Lochte not only cemented himself as the most versatile swimmer in the world with his 200 IM win at the world championships, he took back his title as the best 200 backstroker that Tyler Clary claimed at the Olympic last year. Much talk before the world championships suggested that Lochte’s time dealing with his reality show and other diversions would equate to subpar performances in Barcelona, but Lochte silenced the doubters with those two gold medals, plus a place in the final of the 100 butterfly.
Golden Goggles pick: There are a lot of devoted Lochte and Grevers fans out there, and they have likely flooded the online system with their votes. To me, it should be a runaway decision with Lochte getting the win. Not only was quantity counted in making this decision, but quality as well.
Public voting ends today for the Golden Goggle Awards. Go to USASwimming.org to place your vote in all eight categories!